Since 1975 bar codes on products at the retail counter have been accepted as the standard for entering product identity for price determination. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Data Matrix symbol has become accepted as the bar code format that is marked directly on a part, assembly or product that is durable enough to identify that item for its lifetime. NASA began the studies for direct part marking Data Matrix symbols on parts during the Return to Flight activities after the Challenger Accident. Over the 20 year period that has elapsed since Challenger, a mountain of studies, analyses and focused problem solutions developed by and for NASA have brought about world changing results. NASA Technical Standard 6002 and NASA Handbook 6003 for Direct Part Marking Data Matrix Symbols on Aerospace Parts have formed the basis for most other standards on part marking internationally. NASA and its commercial partners have developed numerous products and methods that addressed the difficulties of collecting part identification in aerospace operations. These products enabled the marking of Data Matrix symbols in virtually every situation and the reading of symbols at great distances, severe angles, under paint and in the dark without a light. Even unmarkable delicate parts now have a process to apply a chemical mixture, recently trademarked as Nanocodes, that can be converted to Data Matrix information through software. The accompanying intellectual property is protected by ten patents, several of which are licensed. Direct marking Data Matrix on NASA parts dramatically decreases data entry errors and the number ofparts that go through their life cycle unmarked, two major threats to sound configuration management and flight safety. NASA is said to only have people and stuff with information connecting them. Data Matrix is one of the most significant improvements since Challenger to the safety and reliability of that connection.